Year of Publication



Martin School of Public Policy and Administration

Date Available


Executive Summary

Graduating high school seniors have several choices to make as they begin their transition to adulthood. Some of the most popular and studied choices are to attend college, enter the work force, or join the military. Past research is focused on the effects of demographic, socioeconomic status, or gender characteristics, but little is known about the effect that specific school characteristics have on a student’s post-graduation choice.

The purpose of this analysis is to answer the question “do school characteristics affect a high school student’s post-graduation choice?” In this analysis I use Kentucky school level data and a simple regression model in order to identify what affect school characteristics have on a student’s post-graduation choice. Three separate regression are used; each one containing a different dependent variable of student choice (college, workforce, military). A dummy variable for counties that contain a military installation is also created in order to account for the propensity of students in these counties to choose military based on their exposure.

I found that school characteristics indeed have some effect on a student’s post-graduation choice. The results showed that the higher the schools index score and the larger the population of teachers with master’s degrees, then the higher the propensity for a student to choose college. Additionally, the closer a student is to a military base the more likely they will choose military or workforce instead of college. Race/ethnicity and a student’s socioeconomic status also significantly impact post-graduation choices.

The implications for this study are the possible changes in the delivery of the education to public high school students. By identifying which specific school characteristics have the largest impact on student choice, we can focus our energies into those specific factors so our students are afforded experiences that inform their futures in the best, most equal way.



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